Akaka Falls

Best way to start the day

...with a sunrise! People come here from different time zones. Some are up long before the sun rises, impatient to catch the new day. Others come from the opposite end of the world. These friends were on their way back from Japan, so we had time to catch a sunrise before meeting them for a leisurely coffee and discussion over tropical fruit from our garden.

Honoli’i Beach Park

In no particular hurry at all, we settled on a course of action that involved lunch at Suisan, arguably home of the best poke in Hilo. Suisan is iconic.

Because we were driving past it anyway, we had to stop at Honoli'i Beach Park. We cannot pass up a chance for a glimpse of a whale or a pocketful of beach glass. The regular surfer crowd there is just a bonus for any shutterfly.

Today, though, the bridge at Honoli'i drew my eye. Standing in the shallows of the river, I captured a 32-shot panorama of a scene that captures my curiosity and awe every time I go there. This is exactly the sort of edit I love to sit down and enjoy with a quiet cup of coffee: bold architectural feature, challenging range, and a familiar place with happy memories.

Akaka Falls State Park

Our ultimate goal was Akaka Falls State Park. Its namesake is an impressive freefalling 442-foot high plunge of water on the Kolekole stream.

For me, though, the joy of the park is in the gentle trail that loops through tropical vegetation and overlooks several smaller waterfalls along the way. This little one always makes me pause in appreciation. With our recent rainfall, it was surrounded in lush perfection. Every leaf in the park seemed to glow with life.

Turning from this scene, the view downstream was completely obscured by a clump of giant bamboo plants. The trail bridges a small stream, spanning a mini-gorge about eight feet above the water. As the land drops away below, plants reach upward to nearly fill the chasm. Bamboo, ginger, banana varieties, and giant hapu'u ferns create a mosaic of shifting greens below, all draped in flowering vines.

Chatting and snapping pictures, we had whiled away most of the afternoon and were content to stretch out the day waiting for sunset's glow to touch the main attraction. The park closes promptly at six, so it was close timing.

Luck was with us. The first blush of peach lit the sky as we dallied. Just enough glow to light the feathery clouds and kiss the top of Akaka Falls...

The sunset shot of Akaka was a straightforward single-shot capture with nothing more than a standard edit, just sweet and easy going into and coming out of the camera.

While we had been chatting our afternoon away, though, my tripod was set up and the shutter working hard. I was excited to get enough shots to do some interesting stacking and stitching: a high-resolution image worthy of the new printer. Maybe even something to inspire my next Weekly Edit episode.

We were the last to leave the trail. Not tardy enough to require a reminder, but enough that the parking lot had cleared of cars. Perfect timing! Now we could enjoy watching the rest of the sky glow with color as we drove down the Hamakua coast to home.

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